HANO (REUTERS) - Winger Patrick Reichlet scored twice as the Philippines fought back from a goal down to beat Laos 4-1 in the opening match of the AFF Suzuki Cup on Saturday.
Khampheng Sayavutthi opened the scoring for the underdogs with a sublime, curling free-kick in the 21st minute as Laos threatened an upset at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi.
But the diminutive side were pegged back five minutes before half-time when Filipino right-back Simone Rota rose highest to head home a corner from the right.
Former Chelsea youngster Phil Younghusband then took advantage of some slack Laos marking to put the Filipinos 2-1 ahead in first half stoppage time with a neat header from a looping cross.
Laos enjoyed some dangerous moments on the counter in the second half but the Philippines always looked more likely to add to their lead and German-born Reichelt did just that in the 77th minute before converting Younghusband's cross at the end to complete the scoring.
"For about 25 minutes we really struggled in the first half but then the rest of the game we created more chances and the victory for us is okay," Philippines coach Tom Dooley said.
Co-hosts Vietnam, winners of the South-east Asian Championships in 2008, host Indonesia later on Saturday.
Defending champions and co-hosts Singapore take on Thailand in Group A action on Sunday after Myanmar face Malaysia.